After a disappointing campaign last season, Manchester United will kick-start the 2014-15 Premier League season against Swansea City under the guidance of their new manager Louis van Gaal.
The Red Devils finished seventh just after being crowned as the Premier League champions last May. Several things have changed since they won the league title for the 20th time.
Firstly, their manager Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down and the great elder of Old Trafford announced David Moyes his successor. However, the former Everton boss’ time at United is something all the club fans would like to forget.
They not only failed to miss out of the next season’s Champions League, but also lost to lower teams in the FA Cup (Swansea) and Capital One Cup (Sunderland in the semi-final). At the same time, Moyes allowed Nemanja Vidic leave the club on a free transfer as the Serbian defender had a pre-contract agreement with Inter Milan.
Also, United allowed another three legends, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra leave the club this summer. However, the Welshman has now been promoted as the assistant manager for the next season.
With several key players in United’s success in the past few years, leaving this summer and a new manager taking the helm at Old Trafford, it is the beginning of a new era. United faithful would be hoping that Van Gaal could turn things around in order to take the club on top.
So far, United have added central midfielder Ander Herrera and left-back Luke Shaw to their squad. The Red Devils are yet to find a replacement for Vidic and Ferdinand, while the former Southampton star will take place Evra’s position in the squad.
Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane have impressed during the pre-season tour and one needs to wait and see if Van Gaal gives them the opportunity to shine in the first team this season. If the Dutchman players 3-5-2 system, which he has played throughout the pre-season, United may need one experienced player in their defence, apart from the existing trio.
If United manages to sign a top quality central defender and another midfielder, they will be in a firm position to challenge for the league title. With Robin van Perise returning to full fitness after the World Cup break, the former Arsenal skipper will partner with Wayne Rooney to lead United’s attack.
Van Gaal can still call upon Danny Welbeck and Adnan Januzaj to lead their attack as the latter was played as a forward during United’s 2-1 victory over Valencia. Spain international Juan Mata will play behind the two strikers and the former Chelsea star will play a crucial role in creating chances to the two players ahead of him.
If United manages to keep Darren Fletcher, who is their new vice-captain in top form for the most part of the season, the Scottish international along with Herrera will dominate the Red Devils’ midfield.
However, having an experienced defender like Mats Hummels or Mehdi Benatia, it will give their midfielders more options to support the attacking players in creating more chances. And should they sign Arturo Vidal from Juventus, the Chilean international will form a great partnership alongside Herrera in their midfield.
With two more potential signings of a central defender and another midfielder, United could be in the mix to challenge for the title. However, with Chelsea having a more balanced squad that United, the West London club are favourites to win the Premier League title.
However, United will pip Liverpool for a place in the top four, while the remaining three out of the top four will make it to the Champions League a year later.